Remarks at a Bush-Cheney Luncheon in Columbus, Ohio
Thanks for coming. Thanks for the warm welcome. It is great to be back in Columbus. I feel comfortable coming here. I like good football. I like to be around good people. And my grandfather was raised here. I don't know if you know that, but Prescott S. Bush was raised in Columbus, Ohio, and the last time I came to Ohio, I said I was proud of the fact that my paternal grandfather was raised here. And my mother got me on the phone. She said, "You forgot about your maternal grandfather, Marvin; he grew up in Dayton." So, Mother, if you're paying attention—[applause]. I'm proud to be in Ohio, because my two grandfathers grew up in Ohio.
I'm proud of my family roots here. I am proud of what you all did in the year 2000. And I want to thank you for coming. Today we're laying the foundation for what is going to be an Ohio victory and a national victory in the fall of 2004. And I'm getting ready. I'm loosening up. [Laughter] But the political season will come in its own time. I have got a job to do. I've got a job to do for all Americans, and that is to keep this Nation secure and strong and prosperous and free.
My one regret about this event today is that Laura isn't traveling with me. She is a fabulous First Lady. She's doing a great job. She is working her way down to Crawford, where we'll spend the night tonight. She is stopping off in Tyler, Texas, to do a little political work herself. And then we're going to spend some time on the weekend, although I'm going to take off on Saturday. We've got some Governors' races coming up. But we're looking forward to getting some quality time together after spending a lot of quality time together on the airplane when we traveled throughout the Far East on a very successful trip. I want you to know our alliances with our friends are strong, and the world is more peaceful for it.
Speaking about a man who married well, so did your Governor. And I'm honored the first lady of Ohio is with us. Hope Taft, thank you for coming. And I'm proud to call Governor Taft my friend. I want to thank you for your service to your great State and appreciate your leadership.
We've got other officials here. The Lieutenant Governor, Jennette Bradley, is with us. Ken Blackwell is with us. Joe Deters is with us. Jim Petro, the attorney general, Betty Montgomery, the State auditor—all friends and all great leaders for the State of Ohio. Thank you all for coming.
I'm honored that members of the statehouse are here, particularly the speaker of the house, Larry Householder. Sorry he didn't bring all his kids with him. [Laughter] Maybe the person serving the meals isn't sorry he brought all his kids with him. I think he said he's got six or seven kids, which is pretty darn good, Speaker. And I want to thank the president of the senate, Senator Doug White, for being here as well. I thank the legislators for coming. I'm proud to have your support, and I'm counting on your support as we get in this election cycle.
I selected a man from Ohio, from Cincinnati, Ohio, to be the national finance chairman of this campaign, and he's doing a terrific job. His name is Mercer Reynolds. I'm proud to call him friend. I'm proud he has taken on such a vital role for the Bush-Cheney 2004 campaign. I also want to thank Tim Timken and Bill DeWitt and Jo Ann Davidson for their hard work all across the State of Ohio. I want to thank the cochairmen of this event for making this an incredibly successful event. I want to thank the grassroots activists who are with us today: the party chairman, Bob Bennett; Michael Colley, who is the national committeeman; Martha Moore, the national committeewoman.
I'm honored you all are here. I'm going to need you and count on you to energize the grassroots here in the State of Ohio, to man the phones and put up the signs and mail the letters. I want you to remind people that when you do so, this administration has got a hopeful, optimistic vision for every single American.
In the last 2 1/2 years, our Nation has acted decisively to confront great challenges. I came to this office to solve problems instead of passing them on to future Presidents and future generations. I came to seize opportunities and not let them slip away. This administration is meeting the tests of our time.
Terrorists declared war on the United States of America, and war is what they got. We've captured or killed many key leaders of the Al Qaida network, and the rest of them know we're on their trail. In Afghanistan and in Iraq, we gave ultimatums to terror regimes. Those regimes chose defiance, and those regimes are no more. Fifty million people in those two countries once lived under tyranny, and today they live in freedom.
Two-and-a-half years ago, our military was not receiving the resources it needed and morale was beginning to suffer, so we increased the defense budget to prepare for the threats of a new era. And today, no one in the world can question the skill and the strength and the spirit of the United States military.
Two-and-a-half years ago, we inherited an economy in recession, and then our country was attacked, and we had some scandals in corporate America, and we marched to war, all of which affected the confidence of the American people. But we acted. We took the lead. We passed tough new laws to hold corporate criminals to account. And to get the economy going again, I have twice led the United States Congress to pass historic tax relief for the American people.
I know that when Americans have more take-home pay to spend, to save, or invest, the whole economy grows, and people are more likely to find a job. So we returned more money to the people to help them raise their families. We reduced taxes on dividends and capital gains to encourage investment. We gave small businesses incentives to expand and to hire new people. With all these actions, we're laying the foundations for greater prosperity and more jobs across America so that every one of our citizens has a chance to realize the American Dream.
Two-and-a-half years ago, there was a lot of talk about education reform, and there wasn't much action. So I acted. I called for and the Congress passed the No Child Left Behind Act. With a solid bipartisan majority, we delivered the most dramatic education reforms in a generation. I believe that every child can learn. And this country ought to expect every child to learn. In return for Federal money, we have begun to ask the question, are you teaching our children? Are you holding up high standards? Are you willing to challenge the soft bigotry of low expectations? The days of excuse-making are over in public education. We expect results in every classroom so that not one single child is left behind.
We reorganized our Government and created the Department of Homeland Security to better safeguard our ports and borders and to protect the American people. We passed trade promotion authority to open up new markets for Ohio's manufacturers and farmers and ranchers. We passed budget agreements that is helping to maintain much needed spending discipline in Washington, DC. On issue after issue, this administration has acted on principle. We have kept our word, and we have made progress for the American people.
The United States Congress shares in the achievements. I thank the Speaker, Denny Hastert, and I thank Majority Leader Bill Frist for their hard work. We're working to try to change the tone in Washington. There's too much politics in the Nation's Capital, too much zero-sum attitude. We've got to lift the rhetoric and focus on results. And that's what we're working to do in the Nation's Capital, results for all the people.
And those are the kind of people I've asked to serve in my administration. When you're sitting around your coffee shops and community centers, you're talking up the campaign—which I hope you do—remind the people that I put together a great team on behalf of the American people—people from all walks of life, people who have come to our Nation's Capital to serve their country, people like Dick Cheney, our country's greatest Vice President we've ever had. Mother may have a different opinion. [Laughter]
In 2 1/2 years, we have done a lot, if you think about it. We have come far, but our work is only beginning. I have set great goals worthy of a great nation. First, America is committed to expanding the realm of freedom and peace for our own security and for the benefit of the world. And second, in our own country, we must work for a society of prosperity and compassion so that every single citizen has a chance to work and to succeed and to realize the great promise of America. It is clear that the future of freedom and peace depend on the actions of America. This Nation is freedom's home and freedom's defender. We welcome this charge of history, and we are keeping it.
Our war on terror continues. The enemies of freedom are not idle, and neither are we. This country will not rest; we will not tire; we will not stop until this danger to civilization is removed.
We are confronting that danger in Iraq, where Saddam Hussein holdouts and foreign terrorists are desperately trying to throw Iraq into chaos by attacking coalition forces and aid workers and innocent Iraqis. They know that the advance of freedom in Iraq would be a major defeat for the cause of terror. This collection of killers is trying to shake the will of the United States of America. And we will not be intimidated.
We are aggressively striking the terrorists in Iraq. We will defeat them there so that we do not have to face them in our own country. We continue to call on other nations to help build a free country in Iraq. After all, it will make the world more secure when this happens. We're standing with the Iraq people as they assume more of their own defense and move toward self-government. And these aren't easy tasks, but they're essential tasks. They're essential for the future of our children and grandchildren. We will finish what we have begun in Iraq, and we will win this essential victory in the war on terror.
Our greatest security comes from the advance of human liberty, because free nations don't support terror. Free nations do not attack their neighbors. Free nations do not threaten the world with weapons of mass terror. Americans believe that freedom is the deepest need and hope of every human heart. And I believe that freedom is the right of every person. And I believe that freedom is the future of every nation.
This country also understands that unprecedented influence brings tremendous responsibilities. And we have duties in this world. When we see disease and starvation and hopeless poverty, America will not turn away. This great, mighty Nation is leading the world in confronting a terrible disease on the continent of Africa. This Nation is bringing the healing power of medicine to millions of men and women and children now suffering with AIDS. This great land is leading the world in this incredibly important work of human rescue.
We face challenges here at home as well. I'm about to go to a business here in Ohio to talk about the economy. My attitude is that anybody—if anybody who wants to work in Ohio or in America is looking for a job and can't find a job, it says we've got a problem. I'll continue to work to create the conditions in which small businesses can grow to be big businesses, the conditions necessary for the entrepreneurial spirit to flourish. We want everybody working in America. We're making progress, but we will not stop until there are jobs aplenty for those who are looking for work.
We have a duty to keep our commitment to America's seniors by strengthening and modernizing Medicare. Congress is taking historic action to improve the lives of our older citizens. For the first time—hear this—for the first time since the creation of Medicare, the House and the Senate have passed reforms to increase the choices for our seniors and to provide coverage for prescription drugs. The House and the Senate must iron out their differences. They must come together and get a bill to my desk soon. We have a promise to keep to our seniors, and we must modernize the Medicare system for those of us who are fixing to become seniors.
For the sake of our health care system, we need to cut down on the frivolous lawsuits which increase the cost of medicine. People who have been harmed by a bad doctor deserve their day in court. Yet the system should not reward lawyers who are simply fishing for rich settlements. Frivolous lawsuits drive up the cost of health care, and they therefore affect the Federal budget. Medical liability reform is a national issue which requires a national solution. I proposed a good bill to solve the medical liability issue all across America. It was passed by the House. It is stuck in the Senate. Your two Senators are good votes on this issue. Some Senators need to hear loud and clear that not one single person has ever been healed by a frivolous lawsuit. We need medical liability reform now.
I have a responsibility as the President to make sure the judicial system runs well, and I have met that duty. I have nominated superb men and women for the Federal bench, people who will interpret the law, not legislate from the bench. Some of the Members of the United States Senate are trying to keep my nominees off the bench by blocking up-or-down votes. Every judicial nominee deserves a fair hearing and an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor. It is time for some Members of the United States Senate to stop playing politics with American justice.
This Congress needs to complete work on a comprehensive energy plan. If you're worried about manufacturing jobs in Ohio, you need an energy plan. It's hard to hire people if you can't find energy. I proposed a bill 2 years ago to the Congress, a bill which encourages us to use, in environmentally friendly ways, the resources at our disposal. We need clean coal technology in America. We need more natural gas. We need to encourage alternative sources of energy. We need to encourage conservation. We need to make sure the electricity system is reliable. As the people of northern Ohio found out, it's not that reliable at times. [Laughter] We need to modernize the system. We need an energy bill. For the sake of economic security and for the sake of national security, the Congress needs to complete the energy bill and get it to my desk.
A strong and prosperous nation must also be a compassionate nation. I will continue to advance our agenda of compassionate conservatism, which means we must apply the best and most innovative ideas to help our fellow citizens who are in need. There are a lot of men and women who want to end their dependence on government. They want to find work. They want to become independent through hard work, so we must build on the success of the welfare reform to bring work and dignity into the lives of more of our citizens. Congress should complete the "Citizen Service Act" so more Americans can serve their communities and their country.
Both Houses should reach agreement on my Faith-Based Initiative to help support the armies of compassion, which exists right here in Columbus, Ohio—they exist in every city in Ohio—the armies of compassion who are mentoring our children, caring for the homeless, who offer hope to the addicted. People of all faiths—Christians, Jewish, Muslims, Hindus—have heard a universal call to love a neighbor just like they'd like to be loved themselves. This Nation should not fear faith. We should welcome programs based upon faith to answer the deepest needs of the human heart which exist in our society.
A compassionate society must promote opportunity for all, including the dignity and the pride that comes from ownership. This administration will constantly strive to promote an ownership society in America. We want more people owning their home. We have a minority homeownership gap in America. I presented a plan to Congress to close that gap. The more people that own their home, the better off America will be. We want people owning and managing their own health care plans and their own retirement accounts. We want more people owning their own business because we understand that when a person owns something, he or she has a vital stake in the future of our country.
A compassionate society is one in which people respect one another and take responsibility for the decisions they make. The culture of America is changing from one that has said, "If it feels good, do it," and "You got a problem, blame somebody else," to a culture in which each of us understands we are responsible for the decisions we make in life.
If you are fortunate enough to be a mom or a dad, you are responsible for loving your child with all your heart. If you're worried about the quality of the education in the community in which you live, you're responsible for doing something about it. If you're a CEO in corporate America, you're responsible for telling the truth to your shareholders and your employees.
And in a responsibility society, each of us is responsible for loving our neighbor just like we would like to be loved ourself. The culture of service and responsibility is growing here in America. I started what's called the USA Freedom Corps. If you're interested, you can go on the web page and look it up. It's a chance to—for people to serve their country, to serve their community, to help a neighbor who's in need. And the response has been great. It really has been. People want to serve. People want to—want to help their country by helping somebody who might be struggling.
Policemen and firefighters and people who wear this Nation's uniform remind us what it means to sacrifice for something greater than yourself. Once again, the children of America believe in heroes, because they see them every day.
In these challenging times, the world has seen the resolve and the courage of America. And I've been privileged to see the compassion and the character of the American people. All the tests of the last 2 1/2 years have come to the right nation. We're a strong country, and we use our strength to defend the peace. We're an optimistic country, confident in ourselves and in ideals bigger than ourselves.
Abroad, we seek to lift whole nations by spreading freedom. At home, we seek to lift up lives by spreading opportunity to every corner of America. This is the work that history has set before us. We welcome it. And we know that for our country, the best days lie ahead.
May God bless.
NOTE: The President spoke at 12:14 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency Columbus. In his remarks, he referred to Gov. Bob Taft, Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell, and Treasurer of State Joseph T. Deters of Ohio; Jo Ann Davidson, chairperson for the Ohio Valley region, Bush-Cheney '04, Inc.; Robert T. Bennett, chairman, Ohio Republican Party; Michael F. Colley, Ohio national committeeman, and Martha C. Moore, Ohio national committeewoman, Republican National Committee; and former President Sad-dam Hussein of Iraq.
George W. Bush, Remarks at a Bush-Cheney Luncheon in Columbus, Ohio Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/211905